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How the Angels built a young starting pitcher core

The Angels have 12 Major league ready (or soon to be) pitchers and they are all (mostly) still in their prime for several more years

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Introduce Shohei Ohtani Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Injuries aside, the Angels have built up a young pitching staff over the past 8 years (mostly since 2013). Including Jaime Barria - who should debut some time in 2018, and Nate Smith - who’d already have debuted if not for bad luck with injuries, the Angels have 12 MLB ready starting pitchers and their average age is ONLY 26.5. That average would drop to 26 years old if you didn’t count the oldest pitcher on the staff - Matt Shoemaker who is a mere 31.

Angels Starting Pitchers

Name Throws Age Control through How Aquired Year GM Notes
Name Throws Age Control through How Aquired Year GM Notes
Garrett Richards R 29 2018 Drafted 2009 Reagins
Shohei Ohtani R 23 2023 International Free Agent 2017 Eppler
Matt Shoemaker R 31 2020 Non-Drafted Free Agent 2009 Reagins
JC Ramirez R 29 2021 Waivers 2016 Eppler
Tyler Skaggs L 26 2020 Trade 2013 Dipoto
Parker Bridwell R 26 2022 Purchased 2017 Eppler
Nick Tropeano R 27 2021 Trade 2014 Dipoto
Andrew Heaney L 26 2021 Trade 2014 Dipoto
Troy Scribner R 26 2023 Purchased 2016 Eppler
Jaime Barria R 21 2023 International Free Agent 2013 Dipoto
Alex Meyer R 28 2022 Trade 2016 Eppler Will miss 2018
Nate Smith L 26 2023 Drafted 2013 Dipoto Will miss 2018

You can pick on the quality, injuries, etc. all you want, but the truth is that the team has done a good job of acquiring these young pitchers with Billy Eppler adding 5 to this list in just 2.5 years - compared to Jerry Dipoto who also added 5 to this list but over 4.5 years. Eppler also added some quality dudes in Alex Meyer, Parker Bridwell, JC Ramirez, and most recently, Shohei Ohtani.

Surprisingly, only 2 of these pitchers were drafted (Richards and Smith) and 7 of them were acquired by trade (or waivers). Three more of them were signed as free agents.

Take a look at the 5 youngest rotations in 2017:

Team (Avg. age)

Colorado Rockies (24.2)
Philadelphia Phillies (25.6)
Pittsburgh Pirates (25.6)
Oakland Athletics (26.2)
New York Mets (26.2)

Of course those were actual rotations and not all potential pitchers, but with the acquisition of Shohei Ohtani and Jaime Barria on the near horizon, the Angels rotation is definitely trending younger (and stronger). Younger doesn’t always equal better, but it does come at a lower cost and you are able to spend money of guys like Trout, Simmons, Pujols, Upton, etc.

Eppler, and those that came before him, have done a good job at building this squad. Many clamor for the Angels to draft pitchers early every June but that is not always the way to build a championship team. Go ahead and look at the 2016 Cubs and how Theo Epstein built that roster. Looking at the top 5 starting pitchers, you have 2 acquired by trade and 3 signed as free agents. Not one of them came from the draft. Last year, Houston DID have success with two of their pitchers (Dallas Keuchel, 7th round and Lance McCullers, 1st round) originating in their own draft, but the rest of the rotation was built through trades and free agent signings.

Keep doing your thing Angels - and Billy Eppler. It will work. It’s just a matter of time.